The trigger point injections and nerve block treatments you have received are not intended to be the cure for your chronic pain.
But they are definitely part of the solution. The local anesthetic or “freezing” agent in the injections is only in your tissues for 30-60 minutes, but most people who receive the treatment can expect a few days of significant relief from pain.
The “pain vacation” that the injections provide can be a wonderful break from your usual routine, which for most people is a very bad one. Chronic pain can break your spirit, making you lose interest in your appearance, your home environment, your daily responsibilities, your relationships and most other aspects of your life. The pain relief you get from your injections gives you an opportunity to rebuild your life, and it is important that you make the most of it.
We strongly encourage you to focus your mind and your energy on taking better care of yourself after your injections, even if it is just for a day or two. Your pain will eventually return, and we have tips to help with that when it happens. But for now, take advantage of this gift. Don’t just go back home and watch TV without pain. Don’t waste this period of freedom from pain. Use it to get your mind and your life back on track.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Drink plenty of water: Most people with chronic pain do not drink enough water. Caffeine and medications can cause dehydration. Constipation is a common side-effect. Dehydration shrivels up the discs in your spine, making them less elastic and more prone to bulging. The best thing to drink is hot water with a bit of lemon juice. Add a few thin slices of fresh ginger, which fights inflammation. A teaspoon of honey will make it taste even better. Avoid soft drinks, juices or alcohol.
- Stretch: If you have been given a stretching routine, follow it. If not, find a YouYube video that you can follow. Spend at least 15 minutes stretching, and do it twice a day. Stretch your low back and neck, your shoulders and hips, even your wrists and ankles. Stretches do not need to hurt to be effective. When you have less pain, you can stretch deeper and longer, releasing tiny knots in your tissues. Combine body stretches with the Seekers Method to stretch the knots we have found in your body.
- Get additional treatment: When you have less pain, massage and physiotherapy sessions can be more effective. Deeper knots can be released, stretching and strengthening is easier, and the benefit of treatments will add up. If you see other providers, schedule your sessions 2-3 hours after your injections if you can. Otherwise, get treated the next day. Remember that any treatment that increases your pain is a bad idea. If your therapist causes pain, ask them to call us to talk about the unique needs of people with chronic pain.
- Spend time with people: Face it — chronic pain makes people miserable, and when you are in pain you don’t feel like talking to anybody. Schedule a social meeting with friends or family so that they can see you without your pain. It will remind you of the person you used to be. Don’t talk about your problems with them. Just enjoy your time together. Social interaction is very healthy for the brain, and it improves mood, memory and concentration.
- Do things that make you happy: Whether it is playing music, painting, knitting, tinkering with your car, going to the movies, walking in nature or yodelling — chronic pain has probably made you stop doing the things you used to enjoy. Some of those activities might not be a good idea — tackle football or scrubbing the bathtub might not be the best thing to dive into — but doing the things that make you happy is good for your brain. Happiness is medicine.
- Get dressed up: Many people with chronic pain neglect some aspect of their appearance. Have a nice shower. Shave. Put on some makeup. Fix your hair. Trim your fingernails. Wear some nice clothes. If you can afford it, go buy yourself something nice. Taking care of yourself is a good way to feel better about yourself.
- Tackle some errands: Whether it is tidying up your living room, cooking a meal, paying some outstanding bills or cleaning your garage, many of the life-management chores that you used to manage all the time will tend to get left behind when you have chronic pain. Getting these done can make you feel a sense of accomplishment that is a very important part of your quality of life.
- Make some plans: What will you be doing for the next week? The next month? The next year? The next decade? If you are like most people, chronic pain has made it impossible for you to think about the future. You have been focused on getting through the day. This is a big part of the reason that pain ruins people’s lives. Spend some time on your pain vacation planning your future. We can help you set goals. Search online to find out how to set SMART goals. Write them down and post them on your fridge. Talk about them with friends. Try your best to make them happen.
- Don’t overdo it: Do more, enjoy more, but respect your limits and listen to your body. Don’t use your pain vacation to abuse your body. Many people are stuck with negative thoughts about themselves, and feel worthless if they can’t accomplish what they used to. This is bad news, and you don’t need it. Do what you can and focus on enjoying it.
- Don’t worry about the pain: It will come, but you don’t need to think about it during your pain vacation. Thinking about it will only ruin your fun. When it does come, there will be tools you can use and steps you can follow so that you suffer a little bit less every time.
Work with your pain vacation. Work with yourself. Be patient. When it comes to chronic pain, your attitude, your habits, your environment, your thoughts and your emotions are just as important as your muscles and tendons, joints and ligaments.